Brooklyn Nets Need to Model OKC Thunder to Rebuild
Added by Deshawn Jelani on June 14, 2012.
Brooklyn GM Billy King could follow the strategy of the OKC Thunder in building a winner.
While the Brookyln Nets players sit at home and watch the NBA Finals featuring two of the youngest and most explosive teams in the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder, next season should remain in the forefront of the minds regarding improving for their future. Watching the OKC Thunder franchise grow from obscurity to greatness provides the Nets with an ideal blueprint on how to build their organization from essentially scratch.
When Sam Presti was made the general manager of the then Seattle Supersonics (now the OKC Thunder) organization, he had a dream in mind. With his experience and vision, he has successfully created a championship competing program that will be good for many years to come. The Nets are well-advised to follow his strategy.
Sam Presti did not attract players based on location or franchise legacy (for the team essentially did not have one). He built a team from the ground up through a series of excellent draft picks, superior trades, and team strategy.
Presti’s first order of business was to draft a star. Kevin Durant was the second overall pick that year and was an obvious one when the Portland Trailblazers passed on him at number one. Drafting or acquiring a star is essential for a franchise and Presti knew it. The Nets must sign an all-star player (eg, Derron Williams, Dwight Howard) in order to guarantee any form of success of the ballclub.
The second thing Presti was able to do was identify talent. This is where knowhow comes into play which is difficult to manufacture (ask Michael Jordan). Presti successfully identified Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, and James Harden as talented college and international players and drafted them accordingly. Nobody thought that any of these players would turn out as good as they are now. Presti somehow did. The ability for the Nets to identify young talent is essential for establishing their future roster.
The third thing the Thunder organization has done is build their bench and role players through smart trades. The biggest and most important trade came when OKC acquired brut center Kendrick Perkins from the Boston Celtics. This was the piece they needed to establish themselves in the paint defensively. The Thunder has also obtained important pieces that include on-ball defender Thabo Sefalosha (from the Chicago Bulls) and Eric Maynor (from the Utah Jazz). Let us also not forget the acquisition of current defensive player of the year Tyson Chandler (although the trade was rescinded after a failed physical). This club obviously is good at obtaining players through trade, which is an area the Nets need to improve in going forward.
The fourth and final thing Presti did was established a team identity. This is probably the most important. The Thunder management and coaching staff based their team on hard-nose defense and face-paced offense. Having a strategy such as this one provides the team with goals to shoot for, and understanding game strategy allows you to more easily identity what players you lack (from the draft and trades) to fill in needs.
The New York Knicks are a perfect example of how not knowing what your strategy is can lead to not knowing what pieces to obtain and what areas the players need to work on during the offseason. The Nets need to establish an identity even before the summer signing period so that their acquisitions are deliberate and with purpose.
Ultimately, it is up to Nets management to make these calls. But it is apparent that developing a franchise from nothing is very possible, as the Oklahoma City Thunder who this week and next will compete for an NBA national championship while only 3 years ago, they finished their season with a worse record than Nets had this year.